The American Gem Society (AGS) hosted its annual Conclave educational event earlier this week, in Louisville, Ky., and the three-day event was packed with fascinating sessions on everything from the value of super-deep diamonds and the near-limitless potential of artificial intelligence to navigating uncomfortable conversations with colleagues.
Hosted primarily by savvy industry insiders, there was lots to learn. And one of our favorite sessions focused on new ways to retail and romance colored stones, led by the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA)’s CEO John Ford, and featuring AGTA president and fine jewelry designer Kimberly Collins, fine jewelry designer Erica Courtney, and Nicolai Israileff of pearl wholesaler ASBA USA.
Here are some key takeaways from the session:
Buy With Passion
Collins and the other panelists stressed the importance of genuinely loving the colored stone jewelry you buy for your store, because that enthusiasm transfers to clients. Collins said, “Buy every piece because you love it so much.” She also suggested having a meeting where sales associates pick a favorite piece out of a case, then talk about why they love it—to get in the habit of verbalizing their affinity for certain pieces.
Train Employees On Color
“It’s important that your employees have knowledge about what’s in your cases,” stressed Israileff when discussing the sales equation.
But Courtney warned of overeducating clients, which can overwhelm shoppers. “Answer questions like you’re talking to a six year old,” she advised. “And then keep answering their questions and don’t lecture them. And say things like, ‘If it’s gorgeous, don’t you want it? What else do you need to know?’ It can be as simple as that.”
Turn Clients Into Collectors
Courtney also suggested calling clients “collectors” early on, harnessing the power of suggestion before they actually are bona fide collectors. “If someone’s looking at a special piece, I’ll say, ‘Oh, that’s a good one—you must be a collector…and then they think, ‘Yeah, I am a collector!’ It’s literally that simple. They love it, they want to be collectors!”
Invest In Trunk Shows
Collins acknowledged the importance of trunk shows for retailers and designers alike, and said that throughout the hundreds of trunk shows she’s partnered with retailers on, a common element of success has been robust promotion. “Invites, emails, social, anything—you have to tell them you’re coming somewhere special and seeing someone special,” she said.
“The more you do, the more you’ll get,” Courtney chimed in on the topic of prepping for trunk shows. “And sales people should look at a designer’s social and know about their line.” The designer added that food and drink are essential at trunk shows, and noted, “Just because you don’t drink at 11 a.m. doesn’t mean your clients don’t!”
Top: Erica Courtney rubellite tourmaline and diamond ring